Something special happens when an album becomes a part of your psychology.
How your brain perceives that particular sequence of notes, melodies, sounds, ideas, etc. has you hooked. No matter how great the span of time between listens, it still satisfies every craving.
Sometimes yearnings for these albums are triggered by a certain event, location, season or time of year, and since summer is nearing, I thought I would review some records that I have associated with this season which have found forever homes in my skull, starting with Dahlia Seed’s Survived By.
You would think that with such an innocent and unassuming album cover, Survived By would be a quaint and dainty little 90’s indie-rock record. Well, luckily it’s not; but describing this band is a challenge all its own. Often lassoed into the 90’s emo extravaganza (which is also tricky because “emo” was a describer for so many different styles back then).
Dahlia Seed had created such a unique sound that even until this day, I have not heard anyone try or even come close to emulating what this band did.
The opening track and probably my favorite, “Punch and Get Out,” shows the Dahlia Seed’s ability to unleash quite the thrashing while humbly restraining themselves in all the right spots, resulting in dramatic tempo shifts and the walloping resurgences of overdriven guitars. Tracy Wilson’s vocals remain the only standing structure in the tsunami; they are commanding and forceful, adding another layer of intensity to the music, but they also flutter, heartening and serene, when the eye of the storm rolls in.
As Survived By plays on, songs range from upbeat rockers like “Archway Out”, “Butterfly Kick”, and another favorite, “Spot Check and”, to longer, more brooding and meatier tracks like “”Lux Perpetua”, “Jet Spin” and “Elevator Syndrome”, where already colossal riffs seem to suddenly become even more concentrated and massive.
One of the things that make Dahlia Seed so magical is that no matter how forceful or torrential the songs get, the music remains hummable and melodious.
Aside from Tracy’s brilliant vocal styling, her lyrics are minimal and sharp, drilling themselves into your memory. They are also a great read. Unfortunately New Jersey’s Dahlia Seed only existed from 1992-1996; their other albums, Valentine Kid Litter and a collection of live recordings and singles, Please Excuse All the Blood, are also worth a listen, but Survived By is truly their masterpiece and should be hailed as a milestone for that time within the rock genre, or post rock, post hardcore, emo, or whatever the fuck.
Currently ,Tracy plays in a band called Positive No, drummer Darin Galgano plays in The Nolan Gate, and guitarist Chris Skelly was singing in Static Is a City (R.I.P.), but currently plays guitar in Night Battles.
Why does Survived By trigger summer memories? The band I used to play in in high school, The Implants, can definitely cite Dahlia Seed as a huge influence, and I have fond memories of school being done for the season and hanging out with all of my band mates and friends listening to Survived By on our way to see or play shows in Burlington, VT, or on the ferry to Plattsburg, NY.
Even though I classify Dahlia Seed’s Survived By as a summer album, it is also one of my top 20 favorites ever, and I often visit it multiple times a year; if you find yourself a copy I highly recommend it.
Rating: 6 out of 6 Doves – Prince loved Survived By so much, that he missed his name being called for his 11th Grammy of the night because he was playing it over and over again in his head. The doves knew to stay out of his way when he got back home. Scariest game of hide and seek at the Prince Mansion ever.